family, Kids, Uncategorized

Gifts from Little People

emily-flowers-drw

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Mama. Sorry they’re dead. But uh, it’s winter, so…”

Wyokiddo @ 4  years old.  If I’m being honest, I’ve received far less thoughtful gifts from far less cuter humans.

Happy Valentine’s Day.  Show the world how big your heart is today, and every day.

Teresa

family, Kids, photography, Uncategorized

First Loves

rocky-fish-final-drwMeet Rocky. He’s Wyokiddo’s fish, bought to replace the gold fish she won at a 4-H carnival that died approximately 15 hours after we brought it home. Rocky is much more hearty, and photogenic. Thankfully.

Someday, we’ll tell Wyokiddo stories about her first pet. Stories like how for the first three weeks after his arrival, she’d wake up in the morning, run to his bowl and breathlessly exclaim “Oh thank goodness! Mama, Mama, Rocky didn’t die last night!”

Her enthusiasm for Rocky has waned a little bit with the arrival of Ziggy the puppy.  But I will still catch Wyokiddo standing at Rocky’s bowl, her finger tracing a path for Rocky to follow.  She chatters at him, telling the fish stories of her day, her friends and her life.

It warms my heart.  Somewhere in the heavens, there’s a chestnut mare with spots and an attitude that has all my childhood secrets woven through her thin, black mane.

Now Rocky will have Wyokiddo’s secrets, and she’ll always have a photo of this beautiful little guy.

Teresa

country life, family, photography, Uncategorized

Ziggy

Ziggy at 11 Weeks.jpgAbout three weeks ago, we expanded our family to include this little dude.  Meet Ziggy, the newest member of the Downar Bird Farm Management Team.  Ziggy is an 11-month old border collie, and was bred to be a lean, mean, herding machine.

He’s got some growing to do before he’ll be ready to hit the bird pens.  In the meantime, he is quite the snuggler and is entertaining himself finding little bits of food, paper and other detritus to eat on the floor.  I’m choosing not to take that as a condemnation of my housekeeping.

Look out roosters, there’s a new sheriff in town.  He’ll come after you just as soon as he’s caught his own tail.

-Teresa

family, Uncategorized, writing, Wyoming

The Mother of Invention

We’ve got a house full of new toys Wyokiddo received for Christmas.  But for almost two hours tonight, she entertained herself with a box, straws, tape, beads, feathers and pipe cleaners.  Lots and lots of pipe cleaners.

She was creating an “invention.”  I’m not clear on what the invention will do once it is finished.  I don’t know that she cares.  Wyokiddo was all about the process, attacking the placement of each hole, each bit of straw, with a great deal of concentration and seriousness.

Wyokiddo is too young for New Year’s Resolutions.  But I think I’ll take my cue from her and work to find joy and purpose in the little things that surround me.

Teresa

 

 

family, photography, Uncategorized

Grace Under Pressure

Wilson Family 2.jpgI’ve known the Wilson family before they were the Wilson family.  Erin was the older sister of a friend in high school and fellow CFD Dandy and state FFA officer.  Fred was an agriculture education teacher when I interned with the Wyoming FFA in college.  And they were one of the first to say “welcome to the neighborhood” when we moved back to Eastern Wyoming.  So it was a pleasure to be asked to take their family photos.

What an evening!  Their boys had me in stitches the entire time.  Wyokiddo had to tag along, and their daughter was kind enough to play with her between photos and entertain her when I couldn’t.  It was fun to photograph their family and see the MANY different personalities come out.  What struck me most, however, was the sheer love between them.  This is a family that sticks together, backs each other up and looks out for one another.

Fred, Erin and the whole crew have seen their share of difficulties in the last few years.  Things that would rock any family to its core and send lesser folk running for the hills.  But they aren’t bitter.  They don’t whine.  They don’t complain or moan “why us?”  They rely on their faith, their family and a level of grace I can only hope to achieve someday.

I pray for this beautiful family daily.  May 2017 be their year to soar.

Teresa

family, pets, photography, Uncategorized

The White Dog

roxy-cw

And then there was one.

A little over a year ago, we had three dogs: Archie, the ever-ready border collie; Hoops, the fluffy, grumpy big dog; and Roxy, the “white dog” who would would suffer blonde jokes if she was a human.  We had to euthanize Archie and Hoops, so now we are a one-dog family.

Roxy is pretty worthless as a dog – she doesn’t hunt, doesn’t fetch, would probably lick an intruder before biting him, and won’t clean up the food that falls on the floor when I’m cooking.  But I love her anyway.  She lets Wyokiddo dote on her, is always ready for a walk and occasionally makes Outdoor Guy smile with her dingbat ways.  I guess we’ll keep her.  I mean, just look at this face.  How could you not love this face?

Teresa

 

 

dogs, family, Uncategorized

Heartsick

HoopsSuch a heavy heart I have this morning.  As I sit here, typing, my oldest and dearest dog is struggling out on the porch.  For the last few weeks, he’s been struggling.  He’ll alternate between good days when he begs me for treats and wants to play ball, and bad days when he limps around in obvious pain and only wants to be left alone.

The bad days have outweighed the good days here lately, and my heart can’t bear to watch him struggle anymore.  I know that our time together is coming to an end, and that I must give him one final act of kindness.  Even if it rips my heart out in the process.

This is Hoops.  He’s 13 years old, almost to the day.  I adopted him from an animal shelter in Cheyenne, and in those 13 years, he’s been a loyal, loving companion.  He has been part of my adult life for so long now, it’s hard to imagine life without him.  He was there when I was 20-something, single, and struggling with a job I disliked.  He was there when I endured a string of bad relationships and broken hearts.  He was there when my dad had a major stroke and the prognosis was uncertain.  He was there when I suffered two miscarriages and endured one hellish pregnancy.  He was always there, his fluffy head on my leg or back, the weight of him reminding me I wasn’t alone.

One night, he might have even saved my life.  A naer-do-well was running from police officers and tried to run through my backyard to affect his escape.  It might have worked, but for the yellow dog sleeping outside.  A scuffle ensued between my protective big dog and the man.  I woke up to frantic barking, flashlights shining in my bedroom window and pathetic cries from over the fence.  “The dog bit me.  The f’ing dog bit me.”

In the end, the police apprehended the man in the neighbor’s yard.  He was missing one shoe, had his pants shredded and required stitches for his calf and hand where the “f’ing dog” bit him.  I shudder to think what might have happened had Hoops not intervened.  The man might have come right through the backyard, into my bedroom and who knows…thankfully, the big yellow dog did his job that night.

Hoops has also been with me for the best times, too.  Nights with me rubbing his belly while I talked on the phone with Outdoor Guy as we planned our future life together.  Riding shotgun on Sunday mornings to get a breakfast burrito (Hoops was just in it for the bacon) followed by a trip to the dog park.  Days wandering the badlands of Washakie county, evening walks across the high desert prairie of Sublette county and afternoon romps in the water at Bump-Sullivan reservoir or Springer lake.  He has patiently endured Wyokiddo’s exuberance, Outdoor Guy’s teasing and a furry brother and sister added to the mix.

I couldn’t ask for a more loyal, loving dog.  I know there will be new dogs down the road, dogs that I will care for and love almost as much as Hoops.  Almost.  Because there will never be another curly-tailed, fuffy butt, grumbly big dog like him.  He is one-of-a-kind, both in looks and in spirit.

My heart aches at the idea of what tomorrow holds.  The goodbyes I must say and pray Hoops understands.  I don’t want to do it.  God, how I wish I could be spared the decision of euthanizing my best fur buddy.  But I love him too much, I owe him too much to be selfish.  So I will drive him to the vet and weep in his scruff as our time together comes to a close.  I will feel my heart crack wide open and the tears flow freely.

I wish there was more time.  But even that wouldn’t be enough.  A lifetime of being loved by this big-hearted, goofy dog wouldn’t be enough.  So instead, I’ll thank my lucky stars for the 13 great years I had with him, for his comfort and protection and his love.  My heart is broken now, but his presence in my life has been a gift.  And that is what I will carry with me.

Love you, big dog.  I’ll miss you oh so very much.

Teresa

Afterword:

My heart still aches today, and will for a long time.  Our house that once seemed small with three dogs underfoot is now painfully, painfully empty.

I wanted to let go of Hoops the same way I brought him into my life, just him and I.  So I drove while he rode shotgun next to me in the car, occasionally nudging my hand for more petting.  Hoops returned from getting his IV in the back and perked up considerably at the sight of me.  He even gave me one last kiss on the cheek, before settling in my lap.  His passing was as peaceful as I could make it.  In the end, it was just me and him lying on the floor together.

We’ll receive his ashes back next week.  I’ll bury them in our front yard, under the shade of the big elm tree.  It was his favorite place to lay, and that way, he can always keep an eye on me.  He took that job so seriously in life, protecting me.  Maybe, just maybe, he can keep on looking out for me and mine from the Great Beyond.  RIP Buddy.  You were loved.

country life, family, photography, Uncategorized

Chickens are the New Chihuahuas

Emily and Chicken-5

This week in micro-fashion…

Looking for the latest in back-to-school accessories for your preschooler? Might I suggest a pocket chicken! Boas are out, bantys are in! Pink, turquoise, t-shirts, leggings, they really do go with any outfit…

Meet Erica the Bantam rooster.  Erica-the-girl named Erica-the-rooster before anyone knew he was a she (the rooster, not the girl). The rooster belongs to Wyokiddo’s papa.  The erstwhile clucker-turned-crower quickly fell under the spell of the curly-haired dynamo.  Wyokiddo would pick up Erica and pack him around under her arm while she helped her papa do chores.  If she put him down, it wasn’t long before he was back at her feet, lobbying for loves and meal worms.

My daughter, the chicken-whisperer.

Teresa

 

family, Uncategorized, writing

Fearless: Life Lessons from a 4-Year Old

Today was the last trip Wyokiddo and I will make to the city pool for the summer.  It’s closing this weekend and we have a full schedule the next few days.  We made the most of our time, including Wyokiddo’s first trip off the diving board.

This summer, with very little help from me, she learned to actually swim, float and dive to the bottom of the pool to retrieve an object.  Her big cousin just taught her how to do a flip underwater and she was even on the cusp of handstands.  She is positively fearless.

I can swim but I’m not truly comfortable in the water.  So I am in absolute awe of her in the pool.  As I swam to the middle of the deep end to catch her coming off the board, her confidence took my break away.  Without a moment’s hesitation, she climbed the ladder, marched out the end of the plank, gave one little wiggle of her butt and leaped into the water with the biggest smile on her face.  No second guessing, no worrying.  She just closed her eyes and jumped.

And to think I could have missed it.

There are times I get self-conscious, lumbering around in my bathing suit.  I feel a bit like a moose clambering to get out of a mud bog.  I could have let my own fear and body image get in the way of enjoying a summer at the pool with my kid.  Do I look good in a swimsuit?  Well, no.  I’m carrying 3o extra pounds.  I have dimples on my ass and my bangs are thinning.  And thanks to breastfeeding, my chest isn’t what it used to be.  But I get in the pool anyway.

Because here’s the thing…my daughter doesn’t care.  She doesn’t see those imperfections.  She just sees her mama in the pool, ready to catch her as she leaps off the diving board for the first time.  She will remember having fun in the water and laughing when she soaks me, not my cellulite or my flabby arms.

This summer, we ran into friends of Wyokiddos at the pool, but only one was with his mom.  Wyokiddo asked me why her friends’ moms didn’t come to the pool, why some only came with a babysitter.  I explained that some moms had to work, that some moms couldn’t swim, and that some moms didn’t like to get in the pool.

Today, as we were walking to our car to go home, she squeezed my hand and said “Thanks for being a mom that gets in the pool.”

I know there will be moments in the future when I don’t feel good about my body.  I’ll compare it to someone else and feel ashamed that I don’t look like I did when I was 16.  I just hope when those moments hit me, I can remember my fearless four-year old and channel her enthusiasm and confidence.  Because I never want to be anything less than the mom that gets in the pool.

Teresa